This section provides data across Key Measures broken out by gender status.

Overview

Progress has been made, but women remain underrepresented in a number of STEM fields, especially at the upper levels, and earn less than their male counterparts with a STEM degree. The picture is not a simplistic one of females' underrepresentation along the STEM continuum, however. Girls and boys begin school with comparable overall math and reading achievement, but differences emerge in more specific skills, between classroom performance and higher-stakes tests, and by subject area and field. In some areas, girls perform better than boys. Addressing gender gaps requires understanding disparities and calling attention to successes that can counter harmful perceptions that STEM is not for girls.

A similar number of females and males leave high school prepared to pursue science and engineering majors in college. Females earn high school math and science credits at the same rate as males and earn slightly higher grades in those classes. However, despite females' strong classroom performance, they do not seem to fare as well on high-stakes tests. Females are less likely to take AP exams in STEM subjects and to score as well as males on those exams. Similarly, a gender gap persists on ACT math and science examinations. Despite their comparable preparation in high school, women are less likely to pursue college majors in those areas and by college graduation men outnumber women in most science and engineering fields, especially in fields such as physics, engineering, and computer science. The gender gap widens at the graduate level and again in the workforce.

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